About This Word

OFC

or original female character

What does OFC mean?

OFC, short for Original Female Character, refers to a female character in a fanwork that doesn’t exist in the source material, and is instead invented by the creator of the fanwork.

Where does OFC come from?

OFCs are a type of OC, or original character. An original character is used by fanwork creators, and particularly by fanfiction authors, to note that a character is their own invention. This contrasts to canon characters, who appear in the the source material. OCs are sometimes differentiated by gender, so that they might be OFCs or OMCs, Original Male Characters.

While the parlance of original female character and OFC were in use in fanfiction culture by at least the early 2000s, the concept of OCs, and OFCs in particular, have long history in fandom. As early as 1973, Star Trek fan author Paula Smith satirized idealized, autobiographical, female fanfiction characters in a story called “A Trekkie’s Tale.” In it, a beautiful young officer, named Mary Sue, comes aboard the starship Enterprise and is adored by all. Even relatively early on in modern fandom as we know it, OFCs were common enough to be parodied.

Smith’s OFC, Mary Sue, went on to give her name to a term which describes characters authors insert into stories as idealized forms of themselves. Mary Sues are wish-fulfillment characters that bend the source material so that everything revolves around them. Like the original Mary Sue, they’re created to be perfect and loveable by everyone in the story—and frequently disliked in real life as a result. Although the term can be used for both male characters and non-fanwork contexts, characters accused of being Mary Sues are most often OFCs.

In fandom culture, there is a thin line between Mary Sues and non-Mary Sue OFCs. It’s not uncommon for some to automatically decry any OFC as a Mary Sue. This is particularly true if the OFC is a self-insert (a fictionalized version of the author) or if there is a romance between the OFC and a canon character.

Because Mary Sue is a derogatory term, when all OFCs are labeled Mary Sues, some writers may feel reluctant to create OFCs. For some, this trend is rooted in misogyny, because male characters are far less likely to face similar accusations even if they are idealized or similar to their authors.

Who uses OFC?

This use of OFC is not to be confused with the use OFC as a texting and internet abbreviation of course.

For example

“I once had a panel on OFC & Mary Sue, & spent half of it reassuring writers that their OFCs weren’t dreaded Mss”

Tish Wells @TishWells14 Twitter (March 23, 2017)

“And I loudly second the Mockingbird rec. The OFC is one of the best I've ever seen.”

liptonrm Livejournal (January 17, 2008)

“Better yet, you can use this graphic the next time you write your own original female character and wonder if she’s a cliché or not.”

Shawna Mlawski, “The Female Character Flowchart,” Overthinking It (October 11, 2010)

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